Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 2017


CBE—Life Sciences Education 16:ar32, 1–13, Summer 2017, DOI:10.1187/cbe.16-08-0244.


© 2017 B. L. Wiggins, S. L. Eddy, et al. CBE—Life Sciences Education © 2017 The American Society for Cell Biology. This article is distributed by The American Society for Cell Biology under license from the author(s).


The primary measure used to determine relative effectiveness of in-class activities has been student performance on pre/posttests. However, in today’s active-learning classrooms, learning is a social activity, requiring students to interact and learn from their peers. To develop effective active-learning exercises that engage students, it is important to gain a more holistic view of the student experience in an active-learning classroom. We have taken a mixed-methods approach to iteratively develop and validate a 16-item survey to measure multiple facets of the student experience during active-learning exercises. The instrument, which we call Assessing Student Perspective of Engagement in Class Tool (ASPECT), was administered to a large introductory biology class, and student responses were subjected to exploratory factor analysis. The 16 items loaded onto three factors that cumulatively explained 52% of the variation in student response: 1) value of activity, 2) personal effort, and 3) instructor contribution. ASPECT provides a rapid, easily administered means to measure student perception of engagement in an active-learning classroom. Gaining a better understanding of students’ level of engagement will help inform instructor best practices and provide an additional measure for comprehensively assessing the impact of different active-learning strategies.